Posted by: aboutalbion | August 31, 2012

DIY religion (10)

The last topic in Colin Morris’ list is the provision for dealing with the breakdown in human relationships.  And the question for my case is: “Has a nation state (such as the UK) provision for the management of breakdowns in human relationships similar to that normally associated with a traditional religious organisation?”

In addressing his topic, Morris emphasises forgiveness by the injured party towards the wrongdoer.  “Forgiveness introduces a new and commanding element into the definition of God.  Indeed, Christianity could be defined as the belief in a God who forgives through Jesus Christ.” (p100)

For my case, the English Legal System has a long history of adjudicating between disputants for whom there has been a relationship breakdown and no agreement on how to resolve the matter.  In the place of forgiveness, compensation in civil matters and fines and imprisonment in criminal matters are the usual starting points for discussing how to do justice in the UK.

Alongside the UK court systems, there is a growing restorative justice movement which seeks to bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into some sort of communication.  The process aims to provide victims with the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions, and an apology. At the same time, the process aims to hold offenders to account for what they have done, to help them understand the real impact of what they’ve done, to take responsibility and make amends.

So I find that a nation state (such as the UK) has in principle well-developed procedures for the handling relationship breakdown, similar to that of a traditional religion.

And this post concludes my digest of the list of items that Colin Morris believes constitutes a religion.  I consider that I have found elements in a modern nation state which match his criteria, and which would go some way towards an argument that a modern nation state could be construed as a religion.

[Morris, Colin (1992) Start Your Own Religion.  London: BBC Books.]

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